the witch doesn’t burn in this one, by amanda lovelace

 

THE_WITCH_DOENSNT_BURN_IN_THI_1504314283710274SK1504314284B

 

First, let’s get something straight. I am a feminist. I’ve read Bell Hooks and I have handed out enough copies of We Should All Be Feminists to buy Chimamanda Ngozi at least a nice little trip. I teach my four-year-old son that boys and girls are equal. When someone argues that feminism is irrelevant or based on a man-hating female group, I am the first to come to the defence of feminism. Furthermore, I think that the #MeToo movement is extremely important, as is the ability for women who are survivors of assault and rape to be able to speak up, be angry and be heard.

However, Amanda Lovelace’s poems in the witch doesn’t burn in this one fell flat on me.   I do think that Lovelace is saying important things, but I felt at times that they were ideas that have already been expressed in other narratives. I grew up in the 80’s reading stories about girls who rescue themselves, like  The Paper Bag Princess  , Princess Smarty Pants and  Tamora Pierce’s many stories about lady knights.  I read Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and felt suitably bad for the witch who in recent years has found a place in feminist discourse. (My favourite representation of a feminist discourse situated around witches is Amy McKay’s The Witches of New York). Perhaps I was not the intended target.

Keep in mind that I have no desire to denigrate the empowerment of others, but I’m going to be a little bit honest here. While trying to engage with the spirit of Lovelace’s narrative, I decided to write out my review in the poetic style found within the pages of the book:

 

my mind was not

blown wide

o

p

e

n

by this book.

sadly, my heart did not ignite

with feminist fury.

these are lines

that i have already read.

(maybe i am just one of the lucky ones)

an important message?

absolutely.

i am sure

it came

from a genuine place.

an engaging, original narrative structure?

nope. 

sorry, amanda lovelace. 

 

 

Advertisements

The Favourite Sister, by Jessica Knoll

the-favorite-sister-9781501153198_hr

I first heard about this book while completing (procrastinating on finishing) an assignment for my publishing program. I’m a sucker for any book that involves reality TV, but when you add in a good mystery, I was hooked!

The Favorite Sister  by New York-Times Best-Selling author Jessica Knoll, follows five successful women who star on a reality TV series called Goal Diggers. The show chronicles the lives and successes of Brett, Kelly, Stephanie, Lauren and Jen. It’s supposed to be about uplifting and supporting women in their successes, but nobody expects the season to end in murder…

A Fabulous Murder Mystery

The Favorite Sister snagged me right from the first page when I read Kelly’s admission that Brett, her sister and one of the characters that we come to know and love throughout the course of the narrative, will die at the end of the book. While sometimes I find that this convention can backfire, finding out that someone will die in the first paragraph of a story only served to pique my interest, maybe because Kelly, Brett’s sister, also admits that it is her fault. Is Kelly the killer? How does it happen? 

Wouldn’t you like to know?

An Excellent Narrative Framework

Fabulous hook aside, what kept me reading was the smart discussion around so many different feminist issues. Sure, it was fascinating to read about the tricks of the Reality TV trade, such as uncorking bottles of wine so that the actors can’t tell how much alcohol they are consuming… Or texting actors with prompts to make on-screen discussions more juicy… (Apparently all true!) …What I liked the most was the narrative framework that Knoll builds around her juicy reality-tv mystery.

Framing the mystery around the discussion of successful women and how they are often put in positions where they must be fiercely competitive and applauded for cattiness on and off television was a clever way to open up readers to an important discussion without getting too heavy-handed.

Real Women, Real Relationships

Despite the sometimes serious ideas that Knoll puts forth, I think that her narrative never gets weighed down because her characters feel like real women and their backstories, woven expertly into the high-powered plot are interesting to read about. Sure, Kelly has issues with Brett, who skyrocketed to fame and left her in the dust, but it is clear that despite their frequent fights, she loves her sister. Hearing from several female narrators, all with different life-perspectives made for excellent reading. Even better, as certain truths come out about the women on Goal Diggers and we discover more and more about their own histories, it feels in part like unraveling another dimension of the mystery.

Jessica Knoll writes about seduction in The Favorite Sister when she says:

“Isn’t that the secret sauce of seduction? First the snare of mystery, then the distinctly female instinct to rehabilitate.”

That is what The Favourite Sister does–it seduces the reader with a fantastic mystery, while subtly working to rehabilitate common ideas about feminism.

 

What are your favourite reality TV themed or girl-power books? Let me know in the comments below!